The last mile, controlled by BIG telcos sucks! Especially in Austrlia!
Most home's last mile is owned by Telstra - a monopoly. But my internet broadband connection is with another ISP (Telstra's own ISP is about 2 times more expensive). So when my telephone line drops, I needed to wait for Telstra to connect/repair - which takes 24 to 48 hours. This time, it took 76 hours. AND only after Telstra restored the telephone connection that I could get my ISP to connect/restore/repair my broadband connection. I have been waiting for 24 hours already. Nothing seems to have happened yet.
I am posting this via abother broadband connection - lucky I have two, but it is still not good enough. I paid for both and would expect both to work!
I thought about the problem of Internet Neutrality and am convinced that it is based on greed that telcos are trying to resurrect their failing business model. They wanted to make more money (just like the bank - this is a discussion for another day). They own the last mile - hence we are paying for the ISP connection. They are hard in negotiation with other ISP at the backbone inter-connection. Since these are business to business negotiation, I believe they are less likely to exert monopolistic pressure. So they turned around and try to bully the small customers.
Robert X. Cringely has a post If we build it they will come which supports "People on local levels band together and create a cooperative, through which they pay for the installation of their own Fiber-to-home connections." [from How To Solve The Net Neutrality Problem]. This would effectively raise the community into the status of a small ISP. As such, the community would need to negotiate at the backbone inter-connect level. The dynamics has not changed. The big telcos will still have the power to bully such small ISPs into accepting unreasonable terms.
No country in the world would and should allow private companies to own the main highways connecting the cities. (OK, there are stupid governments who gave private companies the right to charge toll!) This is a matter of national economy development. No one will live in a house where the only road leading to the house is owned by a private company who will charge you money when you pass everytime!
Robert's suggestion is like having a co-orporative to own the road common to our neighbourhood.
As far as the analogy goes, I believe, like geographical connectivity, the "last mile" should be a public good!
Back to the national highways, many tollways will revert back to public ownership after a certain period (after the cost of building the highway has been paid back). By similar argument, no country should allow private companies to own the backbone of internet traffic on which so much economic potential are growing. National backbone should be a public good.
Just like roads, the economic is NOT the road itself. Roads enable goods to move! Network transport is not the value of the network. Network transport facilitate value growth!
International traffic, internet traffic, should be negotiated at an international levels - this would be another discussion another day.